Edward Shanbrom, a pioneering hematologist who helped develop a breakthrough treatment for hemophilia and devised a critical blood-cleaning process that uses detergents to remove viruses from blood plasma, died Feb. 20 at his home in Tustin, Calif. He was 87.
The death was confirmed by his family.
“Hemophilia patients and blood product recipients worldwide have benefited from Dr. Shanbrom’s work,” Samuel D. Anderson, his colleague, said in a statement.
Dr. Shanbrom was a practicing Southern California physician who specialized in hematology when he joined a division of Baxter Laboratories in the late 1960s as vice president of medical and scientific affairs.
While there, he helped come up with a treatment for hemophilia that is still used today. The method produces a clotting factor, absent in hemophiliacs, that normally stops bleeding.
The family kitchen turned into Dr. Shanbrom’s primary work space when he struck out on his own in the mid-1970s. Common household items became his scientific ally.
When he needed a filter to test a concept, one made for coffee would do just fine. If he was investigating ideas related to plasma and none was available, he would use milk because it shares many properties with plasma.
By the early 1980s, he had discovered the blood-purification process, which uses mild detergents to sweep viruses from blood plasma. Dr. Shanbrom eventually became a leader in the use of detergents and other natural products to destroy viruses — including HIV — and other contaminants in blood.
When the New York Blood Center, a large nonprofit blood bank and research organization, bought rights to his patented blood-cleaning processes in 1988, he arranged for his royalties to fund a deeply personal cause — traffic-accident prevention.
Two years earlier, his youngest son, David, 27, was killed when a speeding tractor-trailer went out of control on a highway in San Dimas and struck his car.
The death of his son plunged him into a deep depression that partly lifted when Dr. Shanbrom diverted most of his royalties to fund fellowships in traffic safety research at the University of California at Irvine Institute of Transportation Studies, he told the Los Angeles Times in 1988.
With his wife, Helen, Dr. Shanbrom researched the issue of hand brakes in trucks after learning that the driver of the speeding truck that killed their son had used his trailer hand brake to try to slow down.
At the urging of the couple, state Sen. John Seymour, an Anaheim Republican, introduced a measure in the legislature to bar commercial truck drivers from slowing tractor-trailer rigs by using only trailer brakes. It became law in 1989.
Born in 1924 in West Haven, Conn., Dr. Shanbrom was the youngest of four sons of a lumberyard owner. He served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946 as a medical corpsman stationed mainly at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In 1947, Dr. Shanbrom received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. Four years later, he earned a medical degree from the University of Buffalo.
He later studied hematology at Yale University. Before turning to research, he specialized in hematology at hospitals including the City of Hope and what is now the University of California at Irvine Medical Center.
Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Helen Shanbrom; three children, Susan Krabbe, of Kirkland, Wash., Bob Shanbrom of Los Osos, Calif., and Bill Shanbrom of Ojai, Calif.; and four grandchildren.
At home, Dr. Shanbrom routinely tested scientific ideas on his family and himself. Wanting to see if a new cranberry extract would protect against sunburn, he smeared it on his forehead and sat in the sun. It failed but proved effective as a temporary hair dye, turning his hair pink for a week.